The Classical Roots of Western Literature
An introduction to the methods and some major texts of comparative literary study. It will focus on the Greco-Roman tradition, asking what it means to call a work a "classic": it will consider the outstanding characteristics of this tradition, how it arose and gained influence and attempt to place it in a global context. Readings will be divided into three topics: Epic Heroes (centering on Homer's Odyssey), Tragic Women (in ancient and modern drama), and the "invention" of modernity (Aeneid). Selected additional readings in non-Western literatures and in influential critical essays. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
Masterworks of European Literature
Professor/InstructorMaria A. DiBattista
This course seeks to discover (or rediscover) a series of significant works in the European tradition, and also to ask once again what a tradition is. The focus will be firmly on the close reading of particular texts, but discussions will also range freely over large questions: What is a classic, what difference does language make, can we think both about world literature, in Goethe's phrase, and about the importance of national and local loyalties? No easy answers promised, but astonishing adventures in reading guaranteed.
The Bible as Literature
Professor/InstructorDonald Vance Smith
The Bible will be read closely in its own right and as an enduring resource for literature and commentary. The course will cover its forms and genres, including historical narrative, uncanny tales, prophecy, lyric, lament, commandment, sacred biography, and apocalypse; its pageant of weird and extraordinary characters; and its brooding intertextuality. Students will become familiar with a wide variety of biblical interpretations, from the Rabbis to Augustine, Kafka and Kierkegaard. Cinematic commentary will be included--Bible films, from the campy to the sublime. One 90-minute lecture, one 90-minute preceptorial.
Thinking Translation: Language Transfer and Cultural Communication
Professor/InstructorDavid Michael Bellos
An introduction to a wide range of issues arising in the many acts of translation that constitute the modern world. Built on a central thread of reflection about translating between languages--What is a language? What is meaning? What is meant by "equivalence"?--the course looks at issues in international relations, anthropology, artificial intelligence, cinema studies, literature, law, etc., that involve the boundaries of interlingual translation and intercultural communication to acquire a better understanding of the problems and practices of translation in the modern world. One lecture, one preceptorial.
Professor/InstructorJoshua Henry Billings
A study of classical myths in their cultural context and in their wider application to abiding human concerns (such as creation, generation, sex and gender, identity, heroic experience, death, transformations, and transcendence). A variety of approaches for understanding the mythic imagination and symbol formation through literature, art, and film. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture I: Literature and the Arts
Professor/InstructorJeff Dolven, Daniel Heller-Roazen, Denis Feeney
This course, taken simultaneously with 217, forms the first part of an intensive, four-course (216-219) interdisciplinary introduction to Western culture. Part I extends from antiquity to the Middle Ages. These courses bring together students and several faculty members to discuss key texts, events, and artifacts of European civilization. Readings and discussions are complemented by films, concerts, museum visits, guest lectures, and other special events. Students enroll in both 216 and 217. Three lectures, two discussion sessions.
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture I: History, Philosophy, and Religion
Professor/InstructorKatie Chenoweth, Moulie Vidas, Ava Shirazi
In combination with 216, this is the first part of a year-long interdisciplinary sequence exploring Western culture. Students enroll in both 216 and 217. All meetings are listed under 216.
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture II: Literature and the Arts
Professor/InstructorJeff Dolven, Joshua Henry Billings, Stefan Eich
This course, taken simultaneously with 219, forms the second part of an intensive, four-course (216-219) interdisciplinary introduction to Western culture. Part II extends from the Renaissance to the modern period. These courses bring together students and several faculty members to discuss key texts, events, and artifacts of European civilization. Readings and discussions are complemented by films, concerts, museum visits, and other special events. Students enroll in both 218 and 219. Prerequisites: 216-217 or instructor
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture II: History, Philosophy, and Religion
Professor/InstructorKaren Renee Emmerich, Jan-Werner Müller, Efthymia Rentzou
In combination with 218, this is the second half of a year-long interdisciplinary sequence exploring Western culture from the 15th to the 20th centuries. Prerequisite: 216-217 or instructor's permission. All meetings are listed under 218.
Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
Professor/InstructorLiane F. Carlson
An examination of thinkers (e.g. Pascal, Hume, Marx, Emerson, Freud) and filmmakers (e.g. Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Friedrich) who distinguish between a way of life they regard as sinful, oppressive, or deluded and a process of change in which the alleged defects are overcome. The course provides an introduction to modern debates over what religion is and how it affects individuals and societies, for good or for ill. The course also concerns film as a vehicle for ethical reflection and social criticism. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
The World of the Middle Ages
Professor/InstructorDaniela Evelyn Mairhofer
An introduction to medieval Europe from late Antiquity to 1400, providing an entry way to the most important milestones of medieval history, theology, literature, art, and culture. Two 90-minute sessions.
Great Books in Buddhism
Professor/InstructorStephen F. Teiser
Close reading of great stories in the formative period of Buddhism, 50 BC to 400 AD. Examines Buddhist literature against the background of religious doctrine and cultural history. Explores themes such as: previous lifetimes, rebirth and cosmology, genres of Buddhist narrative, parables, personal quests versus social justice, emptiness, and changing conceptions of the Buddha. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
East Asian Humanities I: The Classical Foundations
Professor/InstructorAnna Marshall Shields, Brian R. Steininger
An introduction to the literature, art, religion, and philosophy of China, Japan, and Korea from antiquity to ca. 1400. Readings are focused on primary texts in translation and complemented by museum visits, films, and other materials from the visual arts. The lecturers include faculty members from East Asian studies, comparative literature, art and archaeology, and religion. Students are encouraged to enroll in HUM 234 in the spring, which continues the course from ca. 1400 into the 20th century.
East Asian Humanities II: Traditions and Transformations
An introduction to the literary, philosophical, religious, and artistic traditions of East Asia. Readings are focused on primary texts in translation. Lectures and discussions are accompanied by films, concerts, and museum visits. Lecturers include faculty members from East Asian studies, comparative literature, art and archaeology, and religion.
Topics in German Drama and Theater
Exploration of specific problems in the history of German theater, drama, and dramatic theory. Topics may range from the baroque drama to the importance of Brechtian theater for modernism, and from the dramatic representation of political conflicts to contemporary theater and performance studies.
Professor/InstructorJohann David Anand Frick
A systematic study of problems and concepts connected with political institutions: sovereignty, law, liberty, and political obligation. Topics may include representation, citizenship, power and authority, revolution, civil disobedience, totalitarianism, and legal and political rights. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
Philosophy of Art
An examination of concepts involved in the interpretation and evaluation of works of art. Emphasis will be placed on sensuous quality, structure, and expression as aesthetic categories. Illustrative material from music, painting, and literature. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
What is Vernacular Filmmaking? - Rhetoric for Cinema Studies
Professor/InstructorErika Anita Kiss
In this course we will study films that address global audiences yet ground themselves in particular, local, vernacular sources of artistic creation. Our focus will be on three exciting postwar cinematic movements (Italian Neorealism, Iranian New Wave, the Danish Dogma 95), but we will also discuss parallels in American filmmaking. Familiarity with Homer's Ulysses, Virgil's Aeneid and Shakespeare's Hamlet will be helpful since they serve as the frame of reference for many of the examined films.
Freud on the Psychological Foundations of the Mind
Professor/InstructorSusan Leah Sugarman
Freud is approached as a systematic thinker dedicated to discovering the basic principles of human mental life. For Freud, these basic principles concern what impels human thought and behavior. What moves us to think and act? What is it to think and act? Emphasis is placed on the close study and critical analysis of texts, with particular attention to the underlying structure of the arguments. Two 90-minute classes.
Topics in Comparative Literature
Study of a selected theme or topic in comparative literature. Subjects will range from historical and cultural questions (literature and politics, the literature of the avant-garde) to the study of specific literary themes or topics (feminine autobiography, the grotesque in literature).
Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities
This team-taught seminar examines texts, objects, periods and themes from an interdisciplinary perspective. Although designed to be the capstone course for students pursuing a certificate in Humanistic Studies, it is open to other students if space is available. The specific topic varies each year depending on the focus of the faculty team.
20th-Century French Narrative Prose
Professor/InstructorChristy Nicole Wampole
Development of the French novel and short story. Particular emphasis is given to Proust, Gide, Malraux, Sartre, Camus, Butor, and Robbe-Grillet. Topics such as the roman fleuve, the poetic novel, the anti-novel, and the nouveau roman are also considered.
Introduction to Critical Theory
The ethical, historical, and political dimensions of Jacques Derrida's thought and writings.
Humanistic Perspectives on the Arts
Professor/InstructorD. Graham Burnett
The study of the arts at the intersection of the disciplines.
The Media in America
This seminar will discuss such topics as secrecy, national security and a free press; reputation, privacy and the public's right to know; muckraking and the "establishment" press; spin and manipulation; the rise of blogging; and the economic impact of technological change on the news business. One three-hour seminar.